Rotary International Convention 2023

Case Study

In May 2023, the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) hosted the Rotary International Convention (RICON23) – one of the largest gatherings of leaders, thinkers and innovators from across the world.

The huge success of RICON23 perfectly demonstrated Melbourne’s leadership and capability as a global destination for hosting large-scale conventions. Its highly successful delivery is also a prime example of how the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) and ‘Team Melbourne’ come together to welcome exceptionally large conferences to stay, meet and play in the very heart of the city.

Watch this video to learn why Melbourne was Rotary International's destination of choice...

Melbourne's marvellous venues

Rotary made use of two major Melbourne event venues for their convention, welcome event and exhibition. Centrally located and convenient to hotel accommodations, their proximity removed the need for Rotarian members to travel miles out of the city each day. Both venues could be easily reached by foot, a short public transport ride, hotel coach pick up, or a convenient RICON23 inter-venue shuttle service.

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC)

The main RICON23 conference and exhibition was at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, located in the pulsing heart of Melbourne's dining and entertainment district on the banks of the beautiful Yarra River.

Read MCEC's RICON23 Case Study to learn more about how they delivered a successful event.

Hero welcome event at Melbourne & Olympic Parks Rod Laver Arena

The hero welcome event was held nearby at Melbourne & Olympic Parks Rod Laver Arena (also home to the famous Australian Tennis Open). The venue was a pleasant 24-minute walk along the Yarra River promenade or could be accessed via the RICON23 inter-venue shuttle service or public transport.

Ancillary events

Hundreds of large and small ancillary events took place in easy-to-access venues across Melbourne throughout RICON23, hosted by individual Rotary chapters from across the globe.

Many of Melbourne’s unique and leading venues were engaged, including MCG Events at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, (known worldwide as the MCG), Plaza Ballroom, Eureka89 and Flemington Racecourse (home of the famous Melbourne Cup).

"Rotary has some very, very specific criteria that we seek in a host city. It's really important to us to know that first of all, we have the infrastructure to support a multilingual, multicultural community coming together. Having the chance to explore the world-class facilities at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and Rod Laver Arena, we really felt like Melbourne had ticked those boxes for us very, very easily."

- Shannon Watson, Director of Meetings and Events, Rotary International

Transport and accessibility

Transportation was crucial for the convention's success, smoothly moving over 14,000 delegates between venues. A dedicated inter-venue service was provided between MCEC and Rod Laver Arena, including three dedicated shuttle transfers for mobility assistance.

Throughout the event, 180+ staff and volunteer wayfinders across central Melbourne CBD ensured safe and supported journeys for all attendees, creating a memorable and enjoyable experience for everyone. Volunteer wayfinders were also stationed at 65 hotels to manage over 600 scheduled transport services.

In addition to the inter-venue services, Melbourne’s public transport network handled the influx of Rotarians exceptionally well.

A free hop-on-hop-off inner-city tram network enabled Rotarians to easily reach event venues and explore the city. Many of the city’s tram stops are also at ground level, which assisted visitors with accessibility needs to easily board and disembark. The city’s metro train network also made travelling into the convention from outer suburbs straightforward.

Not that many Rotarians needed to catch transport, given the proximity of the venues and how safe and easy it was to walk between them. It’s no wonder Melbourne was just announced Australia’s number one and the world’s number three most liveable city by the annual Global Liveability Index.


It was easy for Rotary International to feel confident in the sustainability credentials of Melbourne when choosing their host destination for 2023.

As a city, Melbourne consistently ranks as a global sustainability leader, ranking number one in Australia in the 2023 Global Destination Sustainability Index and top five in the APAC region.

RICON23 immediately benefited by hosting their main plenary and exhibition at the six green-star rated Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), within walking distance from many Rotarian member hotels. MCEC has been EarthCheck certified since 2009 and has proudly achieved gold status since 2016.

Their nearby gala welcome event at Melbourne and Olympic Park was held in the LEED Gold-certified Rod Laver Arena, placing it in the same class as some of the most sustainable and energy-efficient buildings in the world.

In addition, Melbourne’s renowned tram network, one of the primary modes of transport for Rotarians, is also 100 per cent offset by renewable energy thanks to Victorian solar farms, with over 400 trams carbon neutral.

Positive impact activities

It was essential for Rotary International to include CSR projects as part of their convention program.

One of RICON23's main CSR projects was a mammoth FORaMEAL emergency food packing event. A giant assembly line was set up on stage at Federation Square in the very heart of Melbourne. Hundreds of Rotary members and volunteers joined forces to pack over 100,000 meals to be sent to countries in stress such as the Philippines and Ukraine.

Thousands also took to the streets of Melbourne for a fundraising walking event to support Rotary International's End Polio Now initiative.

A city of progressiveness

Melbourne is a multi-cultural city with origins in 200 countries and 260 languages and dialects. This melting pot culture is reflected in the way business event suppliers cater to visitors from all cultural backgrounds, and why the city did such a fabulous job hosting Rotary members from 120 countries.

Whether it be signage in language, access to native speakers or diverse catering options for dietary and cultural backgrounds, large international conventions such as RICON23 can be confident their member needs will be taken care of.

A city-wide approach to convention servicing

When it came to convention servicing, the city’s ‘Team Melbourne’ approach to RICON23 was highly apparent.

The City of Melbourne rose to the occasion, assisting with ‘Welcome Rotary’ banners to be erected throughout the city and organising extra public transport during RICON23 to manage a higher volume of commuters. They also emailed central Melbourne small businesses and retailers leading up to RICON23, preparing them to provide a warm welcome for visiting Rotarians.

Even a floral bed tribute to Rotary was planted in Melbourne’s Domain Parklands, where visitors could explore 123 hectares of parks, gardens and open spaces.

Meanwhile, MCB got the message out during the convention about all the impressive work Rotary does, securing 135 pieces of earned media across international and national broadcast, online and print media reaching over $2.9 million with an estimated PR value of $1 million.

Diverse and convenient pre and post-convention travel options

One of the standouts for delegates attending conventions in Melbourne is the ease of access to stunning travel experiences in regional Victoria.

Within 60 to 90 minutes of the city, Rotarians could get an authentic taste of Australia, immerse themselves in stunning landscapes and view native wildlife. Easy day trips included everything from journeying along the famous Great Ocean Road, to visiting wineries or native wildlife sanctuaries – even watching thousands of penguins make their nightly migration out of the water at Phillip Island Nature Park.

Learn how Rotary International and the local Host Organising Committee benefited from working with the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB)

MCB and our Team Melbourne approach to bidding, securing and delivering successful conventions is first-class. Hear what Rotary International and the local Host Organising Committee have to say about the support they received from MCB.

"Melbourne Convention Bureau and their partners have been exceptional. We do this event all around the world sequentially every year and I can't tell you what a difference it makes when we have a strong destination marketing organization partner. MCB ticked all of those boxes. They were incredibly knowledgeable, incredibly helpful, and incredibly successful in helping to understand what our needs were and delivering on them. They were amazing."

- Shannon Watson, Director of Meetings and Events, Rotary International

Include Melbourne in your next bid opportunity

Melbourne’s infrastructure capability to host large conventions in the heart of the city, outstanding sustainability credentials, ‘Team Melbourne’ approach and proximity to nearby cultural, nature and wildlife tourist attractions are just some of the reasons why your organisation should include Melbourne in your next bid opportunity.

Learn more about Why Melbourne and reach out to the MCB team for further information for free business event support.